How to Form a Network of Support
When Dealing With Alzheimer’s
When someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, you’ll most likely face an exhausting and emotionally-taxing road. Between communicating with doctors, providing hours of daily care to the person, and balancing a variety of responsibilities, caregivers can find themselves drowning in stress and isolation.
Fortunately, no one is ever alone when dealing with this widespread disease. According to recent research, there are more than five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s. It’s one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and the number of recorded cases seemingly increases every year. As tragic as those statistics may be, it does indicate that there are millions of Americans caring for family members and friends with Alzheimer’s, and as a result, there is an entire network of support at caregiver’s fingertips.
If you or someone you know is struggling to care for an Alzheimer’s patient, reach out for support. There are multiple ways to do so, all of which can ease caregivers’ feelings of guilt, anxiety, and depression.
Locate a Support Group for Caregivers and Attend Regular Meetings
Finding a group to lean on during this difficult time is actually easier than you might think. The Alzheimer’s Association and many other organizations can immediately connect you with others in your area who are fighting similar battles. If you’re not sure which group would best suit your situation, contact a doctor or organization member to discuss your needs.
By exchanging information with a local Alzheimer’s support group, caregivers can work through challenges and access a wide range of resources they might not previously have discovered, such as counseling programs or training services. Groups will also provide updates on the newest forms of treatment and research so you don’t have to constantly keep up with them alone.
Support groups aim to provide a safe space where people working on the same problems can find understanding, comfort, and a place to share their worries and thoughts. Most groups are local, so you can form relationships with people who live close by and attend meetings without eating up too much of your already busy schedule.
Regardless of whether you join a general support group for caregivers or a group for people specifically handling Alzheimer’s cases, you’ll have the opportunity to establish powerful connections with others while learning about local resources.
Turn to Online Communities
In-person support groups aren’t the only forms of communal support available for caregivers. There are dozens of online forums that can provide just as much information and companionship. Memory People and Family Caregiver Alliance are just two of the online platforms you can turn to, depending on your specific needs or desires. A simple Google search will reveal many options to choose from, including closed Facebook groups and message boards that are open to everyone.
There are several benefits that come with an online support group membership. You’ll have instantaneous access to various forms of communication with others, from email chains to 24/hour chat rooms. If you struggle to find time to attend local support group meetings, then you can use the Internet to craft a schedule that works for you and your disabled loved one. Most online communities are moderated, so you can feel secure while discussing the challenges and rewards of working with a person with Alzheimer’s disease. The social sites also allow members to quickly share websites and free online resources with one another as an additional form of educational support.
Reach for Professional or Monetary Assistance When Necessary
Sometimes, you can’t do everything on your own, and that is extremely important to acknowledge. Becoming a caregiver can be emotionally and physically exhausting, especially when you feel ill-equipped to handle certain situations. That’s when it’s time to seek aid from doctors, nurses, or even professional caregivers.
It may benefit you and your loved one to look into paid help, if you have the financial means. There are many companies you can turn to for specialized in-home care assistance, as well as medical attention, house cleaning, and more. There is no need for one caregiver to take on all the necessary tasks, so if you can afford it, seek the support of other professionals.
If you feel that you are dedicating much of your weekly schedule to caregiving activities and you can’t afford to hire professional aid, it might be time to consider applying for financial assistance. The time you spend caring for the Alzheimer’s patient may impact your ability to work long hours or hold steady employment. In fact, 60 percent of adult children caring for their disabled parents are forced to quit their job in order to devote themselves to the task.
Thankfully, if you are stuck in such a situation, there are ways in which you can receive payment for the care you are giving. You can sign a contract and receive financial assistance from other family members who spend less time with the Alzheimer’s patient, or you can apply for supportive health and financial programs. There is no reason for you to feel shame about asking for money when you are shelling out hours of your time for free, even if you enjoy helping the disabled loved one. Monetary support can help you stay in strong mental and financial shape, which in turn allows you to become a better caregiver.